As the sweltering summer sunshine starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Kutztown and Breinigsville start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outdoor air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, in reality there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Moyer Total Indoor Comfort share five reasons why covering your air conditioner doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.
1. Your AC Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow
Exterior AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These machines are built with durable materials and components that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are specially developed to resist corrosion, and the housing is crafted to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant odor, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to covering the unit, instead ensure proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clear of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioning unit can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable nest can obstruct airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is essential for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, leading to additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioner without realizing that the exterior unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the lack of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit has no barriers and is not covered to maintain maximum airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's a lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would impede successful heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.